In the old days John raised cows, Joe grew wheat and Jennifer fished: individuals produced food and traded it.
Our supply of food has been whittled down to fewer and fewer sources. The grocery stores have amalgamated into 2-3 giant companies. Farms have been sewn together to form massive food machines. Even the struggling independent variety store owner is forced to get many of his supplies from costco and walmart. Naturally big companies are merging in many industries. Its an effective way to both eliminate the competition and create a larger, more capable, organization.
Food is now produced more efficiently, with the cost savings carried down to the shareholder.
The most obvious problem with this is the question of what happens when something goes wrong? Take a huge place like Maple Leaf. One production source has an outbreak of deadly virus, it affects a massive slice of the population. What choice have we got when ML is the only brand Blahblahs and such will carry? If John spit in the milk in the old days only a couple families may have been affected.
You’ve also got to wonder, in these days of credit crunch and greedy people essentially investing more money than there is available; what happens if one of the masters of our food supply up and collapses one day? It happens. Banks and insurance companies can bankrupt out from under people’s feet, why not grocers? Let’s suppose the next generation of Westons run blahblas into the ground and loose out to walmart and sobeys. Some poor investments that sink them fast, but they keep it a secret for the most part. One day they just announce: the ships going down, we’re calling this company bankrupt. They escape to their yachts to sulk. Now again, if joe the farmer dies, well its tragic, but he’s just one guy- its the kind of blip in the supply chain that we can easily overcome without problems. If we get all our food from 3 sources and one goes down, is the transition to 2 sources going to be seamless, do we want it to be?
The biggest worry though, is what happens if something big goes wrong. What if there is a major disaster that cripples our network of supplies. Which system do you think is better equipped? A merged food supply relies on central control to keep production and distribution happening. In the old days communities had most of what they needed to survive locally, today most communities don’t even produce food- or they produce one kind but depend on (feed/seed) externally.
One day something bad will happen, its regrettably inevitable, meanwhile our eggs are being put into fewer and fewer baskets.
What can you do? Nothing, you have to eat. You will keep feeding these corporate beasts because you have no choice. Hey, by the time this all actually brings about the ruin of civilization we will probably be long gone, so really its a win win situation.
Tags: antibiotics, bacteria, canada, civilization, communities, corporate, disasters, farm, food, future, groceries, humanity, merges, milk, parasites, philosophy, politics, science, supply, technology